This activity looks at words and word formation. 


  • To explore the definition of a 'word'. 
  • To explore how words are formed and understand some word-formation processes.
  • To explore how words create meaning.

Lesson Plan

Start the lesson by asking your students to discuss what a ‘word’ is. It's a surprisingly tricky thing to define! 

Next, display the following words on the board:

  • banana, bananas 

Are these the same word, or different? Why?

What about these?

  • teach, teacher, teaching, ing, teacher’s

What about these?

  • bananaing, bananaed, unbanana

In the course of this discussion, students should be encouraged to explore how words create meaning. For example, although we don’t want to say that ‘-s’ and ‘-ing’ and words, they nevertheless make meaning. Provide students with the definition of a word taken from the National Curriculum glossary:

A word is a unit of grammar: it can be selected and moved around relatively independently, but cannot easily be split. In punctuation, words are normally separated by word spaces. Sometimes, a sequence that appears grammatically to be two words is collapsed into a single written word, indicated with a hyphen or apostrophe (e.g. well-built, he’s).

  • headteacher or head teacher [can be written with or without a space]
  • I'm going out
  • 9.30 am

Look back at some of the words from before:

banana, bananas, bananaed, teacher, teaching, ing

Which ones of these are words, or not? Why?

Next, carry out the word or not word? activity on Englicious, which you can find here.

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